RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Duke University researchers spent the last year developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Studies conducted in monkeys showed their development may be the most promising yet.
Results from their study were touted by the country’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. In Thursday’s White House briefing, he said the Duke vaccine was a look at “where we want to go with vaccines with regard to coronaviruses.”
Kevin Saunders, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said they found their vaccine had three promising benefits:
- Was effective in preventing COVID-19 as a stand alone shot or as a booster to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
- Protective against the Brazil, South Africa, and United Kingdom variants
- Worked against other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, that originate from animals
“Being able to transmit from an animal to a human could introduce a novel virus that humans haven’t seen before and they don’t have immunity against,” Saunders said.
Some scientists believe COVID-19, SARS and MERS originated in animals before crossing over to humans.
“Importantly, which is the crux of this discussion, is that the vaccine elicited cross-neutralizing antibody against bat coronaviruses, human SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2, and variants of SARS-CoV-2 that we are dealing with, such as B117, P1, and B1351,” said Saunders.
Saunders added the vaccine seemed to stop the virus from multiplying in the nose and lungs. Both are key places COVID-19 infects and spreads. It’s something Saunders said has been difficult for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to do.
The next step is for researchers to secure funding to allow them to start clinical trials in humans. The vaccine is not expected to be available to the public for at least another year. While more Americans may be vaccinated by then, Fauci appeared optimistic about the vaccine’s future use.
“We always have to have a caveat when you’re dealing in a nonhuman primate — nonetheless, this is an extremely important proof of concept that we will be aggressively pursuing as we get into the development of human trials,” Fauci said.
Watch Dr. Fauci explain benefits of the vaccine below: